Ender’s entire life is a military creation. From his forbidden birth as a third child to his rigorous schooling in a prestigious military academy from the age of six, Ender eats, sleeps, and breathes for the military. But it’s really all about the military’s “games,” designed to mimic alien combat. He is humanity’s last hope against the Bugger threat, but it is unclear whether he’ll be able to rise to the challenge.
I read Ender’s Game back in high school after my science teacher, Mr. Adams, talked about how much he liked it. I enjoyed it then, but didn’t really see what all the fuss was about.
I re-read Ender’s Game this past week after my husband, Logan, read it for the first time and couldn’t stop talking about it. This time, it clicked. I loved it. I loved it so much, that I stayed up until one o’clock in the morning one night to finish it, which I haven’t done with a book in years.
There are a number of things that contribute to Ender’s Game‘s excellence. Orson Scott Card has a writing style that’s easily accessible and never distracts from the story itself through either simplistic or purple prose. Each person Ender encounters contains a depth normally reserved for main characters. The setting is present enough for readers to immerse themselves in, but never distracting.
In other words, it’s an extremely well told story.
And the story itself is haunting, mostly because of the cast of children. Only three adults are really fleshed out in the story, and of those, Ender only interacts with two. Everyone else is twelve or younger. This fact is extremely easy to forget because of the situations the children are dealing with and their adult reactions, but then they will do something that reminds you that they are in fact little kids, and the reminder is powerful. Of course, I would find myself thinking, they would handle this in this way because they are KIDS. Little kids who don’t know of other ways to deal with their problems.
I also found myself feeling guilty for expecting so much of these children. So much is riding on their success that I would find myself supremely disappointed in their failures, but then I would catch myself. I remember myself at eight and I was useless. How could I expect more of these children, just because the world was in danger? They were put in different circumstances than I was, sure, but as far as mental and physical development, they were no different.
And that’s what made me appreciate Colonel Graff. Back when I read the book in high school, I didn’t care for him at all, but now that I’m older, I would find myself agreeing with him. Agreeing with his tactics. And because he’s framed as a bit of a bad guy, that made me really start examining myself deeply. That’s probably what made Ender’s Game “click” for me so much more this time than last time.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in military tactics, childhood development, the effects of war on a child’s brain, science fiction worlds and settings, space combat, or just well-written prose.
Stay away from Ender’s Game if children being placed in very distressing situations is too much for you, you don’t want to see a scathing review of military tactics, or the idea of aliens turns you off.
“We’re the wicked witch. We promise gingerbread, but we eat the little bastards alive.”
“There’s only one thing that will make them stop hating you. And that’s being so good at what you do that they can’t ignore you. I told them you were the best. Now you damn well better be.”
“…but the seed of doubt was there, and it stayed, and every now and then it sent out a little root. It changed everything, to have that seed growing. It made Ender listen more carefully to what people meant, instead of what they said. It made him wise.”
“Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.”
This review has been cross-posted to my Goodreads account.